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R&A's Martin Slumbers: Open will be held this year with or without fans

Royal St. George's
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R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said The Open Championship will be played as scheduled this year – with or without spectators.

In an interview Tuesday with Sky Sports News, Slumbers said that he believes The Open “needs spectators” but that determination will be left up to the government and health agencies.

“We will play The Open this year,” he said in the interview. “We are certainly planning to stage The Open, but clearly at this point there are multiple scenarios. It’s certainly a lot more complex than staging a normal Open Championship. But we are going to do everything we possibly can to put on a great championship for the country.”

The Open was the only major that wasn’t played in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The PGA Championship, U.S. Open and Masters were all held with essential personnel on-site.

Augusta National has already announced its intention to hold the Masters in April with limited patrons, without specifying how many will be allowed on the course. Slumbers said he’s interested to see how the first major of the year unfolds.

“I think there’s a very good possibility we will be able to have spectators, but we will have to wait and see how many,” Slumbers said. “We are balancing the health and safety of everyone involved, but I strongly believe The Open needs spectators. It will be really important to have some, but we want to make sure we do it smartly, intelligently and with due diligence.”

The Open is scheduled for July 15-18 at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England.